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Even the hawks are starting to say it might be time to leave Afghanistan.

In light of the tragic news today of 6 more Canadian soldiers dying to a roadside bomb, even those who have been firmly in the stay-in-Afghanistan camp are now saying the mission support from other NATO countries need to change, or it really is time for Canada to come home in Feb 2009:

Retired Maj.-Gen. Lewis Mackenzie said that casualties must be accepted if Canada believes in the importance of the Afghanistan mission. But he added that unless NATO offers Canada more support in southern Afghanistan, the chaotic region where Canadian troops have endured much of the fighting, then the mission should not be extended. “If NATO doesn’t get off its butt and countries that aren’t participating don’t start showing up in numbers, and start increasing the number of troops in the south … then I won’t be at the head of the line in 2009 saying we should stay,” he told CTV Newsnet.

Lewis Mackenzie has been one of the biggest supporters of the Afghanistan mission, and he is a Conservative Party supporter, but even he is saying “enough is enough” if NATO refuses to get other member countries to carry the load. Take a look at the fatality rate of NATO countries in Afghanistan listed by Steve and you’ll see what I mean. We have 10 times less the troops there that the Americans do, but we are second only to them in the number of casualties.

It is time that other NATO nations show their commitment to the Afghanistan people that Canada has, and play their part.

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13 comments to Even the hawks are starting to say it might be time to leave Afghanistan.

  • mushroom

    "Darfur, Haiti or Rwanda  Yugoslavia, Bosnia and Kosovo."

    Canada's record there have been mixed.  The Rwanda and Yugoslavian experience have been promoted by two blowhard generals: Dalliare and Mackenzie.  Both of them were the predecessors to Hillier; telegenic, articulate, and promised less than the facts on the ground.  About Haiti, an elected government led by Aristide was overthrown because his populist, liberation theology discourse scared the US to bits.  Darfur, you are talking about a genocide the equivalent to Srebrenica, Darfur, and Nanjing.  Peter MacKay is not going to be Canada's Bernhard Kouchner, far from it. 

    "Canadians are not afraid to fight in wars or support wars (especially of the multilateral variation).  History has proven this."

    By 2009, the Afghan mission will be a stain in Canadian history the equivalent of the Australian experience in Vietnam.  Kandahar is Canada's version of Hamburger Hill.  I will not shed a tear if this is Harper's political legacy.  It may bring forth a rupture with the past needed for a multicultural and more tolerant Canada.   

     

  • In_The_Centre

    <i>A majority of Canadians DID NOT support 'the war' in the beginning, sorry. </i>

    "Five weeks after 9/11, in a Léger poll, eight in 10 agreed with the government’s decision to support the American air strikes against Taliban targets in Afghanistan. Only 21% said it "would be sufficient cause for Canada to pull back its military support to the United States… if Canadian soldiers perish in combat."

    Source:  http://www.vectorresearch.com/articles/vector_research_do_canadians_support_troops.pdf

    So what happened?  1.  George Bush squandered worldwide western solidarity by invading Iraq, 2. Canadians and other's nationals have unfortunately painted the Afghanistan conflict in the context of aggressive American interventionism in Iraq and 3.  Because of this, citizens of other European countries have enough power in their respective countries to vote out governments that support sending troops in harms way which may lead to higher casualties.   That is why France, Germany and others are sitting on their asses.   Finally, and an important point, Harper claimed the Liberal Afghanistan mission as his own without launching a crucial aggressive marketing plan on the positive's of the war.  War is a P/R battle, and it has been non-existent under both the Liberals and the Con’s

    I’ve always thought that a new minister should be appointed, whose sole duty is simply managing the Afghanistan War.

    <i> The Afghanistan mission has revealed one thing.  Canadians no longer see themselves engage in fighting wars of any kind.  </i>

    ……… No comment.    Ask a Canadian if Canada should send troops to Darfur, Haiti or should have sent troops to Rwanda etc.. and you will get great support.  Canadians also supported intervention in Yugoslavia, Bosnia and Kosovo.  Canadians don’t mind sending their troops to make the ultimate sacrifice; however, they need to be convinced it is worth it.

    <i>It is time for Canada to adopt a pacifist foreign policy that supports the promotion of peace above all else.  Canada has no interest in getting involved in the entangled alliance of the imperialist powers and be engaged in military conflict of any kind.</i>I can tell you that many active Liberals, including myself, would find such sentiment, wishful thinking worrisome if it spread within the LPC.  Thankfully, this opinion is in the fringes of the party or found mainly in the NDP

    Canadians are not afraid to fight in wars or support wars (especially of the multilateral variation).  History has proven this.
    Finally, my opinion of Afghanistan?  Withdraw from combat operations from the South in 2009, but stick around and do something else.   Hopefully, with a new administration in the U.S in 2009 (and hopefully Democratic), we will see a redoubling of effort in Afghanistan while withdrawing from Iraq.

    -ITC

  • mushroom

    "It is time that other NATO nations show their commitment to the Afghanistan people that Canada has, and play their part."

    Scott,

    It is time for Canada to adopt a pacifist foreign policy that supports the promotion of peace above all else.  Canada has no interest in getting involved in the entangled alliance of the imperialist powers and be engaged in military conflict of any kind.

    The Afghanistan mission has revealed one thing.  Canadians no longer see themselves engage in fighting wars of any kind.  The next government should do the nation a favour and downgrade the military significantly to pursue a pacifist foreign policy.  

  • Slg

    Experts say that more than 200,000 troops are required to succeed.  NATO can't come up with nearly that amount.  It reminds me of Iraq – not enough troops to properly handle the mission.

    Why bother if it can't be done properly?  

    Do it right or don't do it at all.     

  • foottothefire

    A majority of Canadians DID NOT support 'the war' in the beginning, sorry.  Most were at best hesitant.  Many recalled America's on going God given vision of the world -and greed- and asked, 'is this another one we're getting sucked into'?  
    ANSWER: yup.
    Don't forget, Iraq took over the White House priorities (spell, OIL).  Any notion that Afghanistan is benefitting/ gaining from our presence or welcoming us had better be measured by the things that suggest otherwise.  Think civilain deaths, Pashtun loyalty, phony borders created by foreigners, poppies/heroin, war lords running government, government graft that'd make Stevie Boy Harper a saint and the biggie – our allies (Pakistan {Taliban home base? remember?} and 80% + of NATO countries there ain't to keen to join in the fight).  We're fighting with the hands, feet and minds of everyone else tied behind THEIR backs.
    and folks want to argue about whether we should be there or not?  Wake up people, you're regurgitating seeds planeted by a blindly stupid MSM themselves fed BS by the White House.   Bush should be tried as a war criminal with boot licking Prime Ministers to follow.   

  • KC

    Scott – I agree with almost all of what you've said here (Im not sure about setting "benchmarks" but I tihnk thats a minor disagreement) and my views are about the same as yours on the war.  I just don't like that opposition to the war flairs up when a Canadian soldier is killed over there.  Afghanis are dying all the time but that hardly gets any media or public attention.   I also dont think the fact that Harper is trying to politicize the war (and I agree with you that he does… absolutely) should have any bearing on our overall opinions on the war.

  • I will repeat to you, Kyle, what I told Olaf over at his blog back in May:

    I originally supported the mission like a large majority of Canadians did. I’m still leery of pulling them out too early when the central government still has no authority outside of Kabul without Nato help; that would mean to me the government would get overthrown rather quickly.

    That said, I am critical of Harper’s attempts to politicize this in the way that he has, turning it into a Bush “you’re with us or you with the terrorists” screed. I’m also critical of the fact we’re down there in the south with the US and the British, while the rest of NATO either sits in the safer areas of Afghanistan, and refuses to rotate troops down there.. or refuses to send them, period. I think some persuasion or some threats need to be leveraged to say “either help us out.. or our political situation is going to be so untenable we will be forced to leave”

    I also think we should be giving the Afghanis’ benchmarks to meet to show progress. It’s all well and good to say we’ll leave when they are ready for us to leave, but I’d like to see some measurable progress to show they’re actually trying to get more organized… rather then barely doing anything so we have to stay there to prop them up.

    ————-

    And with that, by the way Aaron,,, you can take your “politically opportunistic” charge and stick it. Or, better, you can go back to your own blog and try to get your fellow Thepolitic.com guys to stop typing prejudicial remarks against the native peoples, before you worry/misinterpret what I have to say over here.

  • Oh brother. What qualifies in your warped mind as a "productive proponent" Aaron?

    I supported sending the mission to Afghanistan. I up to this point have never publicly called for a withdrawal. I stated a few weeks back my position on Afghanistan at Prairie Wrangler's site, but my patience is running out with our NATO allies, as are others.

    I suggest you think before you type. I know that's hard for you… but try next time.

  • KC

    Scott – If the mission if Afghanistan is justified then Canada should be there? I dont know how other NATO countries not pulling their weight should be relevant to that debate. If your argument is that other countries arent doing their share and?without them?we cant accomplish our goals and we should pull out then yes that is an argument. But that debate would have nothing to do with the number of our soldiers being killed. That is another debate; and my view is that debate should only take place where military deaths are given no more than equal weight to Afghani civilians.

    Steve – They arent mutually exclusive? My argument is simply that deaths of Canadian soldiers is, in our national debate, given far more weight than dead Afghani civilians and I think that is wrong. If a hundred or so deaths is enough to make us rethink the war we never should have gone. It almost seems that the debate over the war in Afghanistan operates on a demerit point system where a death of a Canadian soldiers counts for 1000 demerits while the death of an Afghani civlian counts for 1 demerit (if that).? My point is simply that each death (keep in mind I am talking about civilians here–not Taliban or Al Qaeda forces) should be counted equally in shaping our opinions on the war.

  • So if more NATO countries sent troops, then you'd suddenly supporting extending the mission?

    This position makes alot of sense for a productive proponent like MacKenzie. For you and others like you, it reeks of opportunism.

  • I was more focusing on the fact there are a lot of NATO countries not doing their part, Kyle. If they were, the fact we have so many casualties probably wouldn't be as big a factor as it was. But 22 out of the 26 NATO countries are either not in the south of Afghanistan, or else they sit in the safer north and refuse to rotate troops south. That is what is galling to a lot of people, and that is what exacerbates the casualty concerns.

  • "I think focusing on casualities among Canadian and other NATO forces is misguided. "

    KC, because a particular post points to this facet of the war, doesn't translate to forgetting about the civilian Afghans.  There are many themes, working in tandem, and I'm not sure why focus on one somehow makes it exclusive.

  • KC

    I think focusing on casualities among Canadian and other NATO forces is misguided.  More innocent Afghanis (civilians, not Al Qaeda and Taliban) were killed during the opening days of the war than Canadians have been killed over the whole 6 years.  Assuming of course that the loss of a life of an innocent Afghani civilian is at least as bad as the loss of a Canadian soldier (I HOPE thats a fair assumption), and we now believe that the amount of Canadian deaths is unacceptable then we should have been moved to revoke our support for the war almost as soon as it started. 

    There are many good arguments both for and against Canada pulling out of Afghanistan.  The number of deaths among Canadian or even NATO forces is not one of them because it demeans the lives of the thousands of innocent civilians who have died.  The total number of deaths is an argument against ending the war; the total number of Western deaths taken in itself is not. 

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